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Prosecution oversight czar report: Increase in justified complaints

CM 16/08/2021

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Justice Ministry oversight czar David Rozen issued his annual report on Monday, stating that the number of justified complaints against prosecutors and police had increased.
In 2020, there were 550 complaints – a 26% increase from 2019 – continuing the trend of an increase in the number of complaints filed per year during Rozen’s term.
Rozen’s office completed dealing with 493 out of the 550, a 90% rate of completion. It also finished probing another 50 complaints filed which had been carried over from 2019.

Initial actions regarding complaints were generally taken within a mere two days, while most complaints were fully probed within the relatively short time of a month.
In addition, 92% of complaints had been handled within three months.
Of the 550 complaints, 25% were found to be justified and 62 of those complaints led to specific recommendations by Rozen to make operational or personnel changes.
This was a slight increase from 2019 in which 23% of complaints were found to be justified.
From the justified complaints, 93 (68%) related to the state prosecution, 23 (17%) related to the police, 13 (10%) related to lawyers with special permission to act on behalf of the state and the attorney-general and 6 (4%), related to the attorney-general himself.
Complaints related to the alleged abuse of suspects’, defendants’ and victims’ rights, allowing police who previously broke investigation rules to continue in their roles, reducing the use of classified evidence for the court’s eyes only, avoiding conflicts of interest, standardization of procedures and setting rules for interactions between the prosecution and the police.
Rozen gave special attention to the problem of police being allowed to continue to participate in investigations and interrogations of suspects even after being found to have previously abused other suspects’ rights.
The oversight czar complained that he has warned for years that the police must change their entire way of handling such issues, but added that his warnings, to date, appear to have fallen on deaf ears.
He did say that one specific policeman who had manufactured claims about a suspect was suspended from the force due to arguing at detention and indictment hearings in court. He was placed on involuntary leave while he faces a disciplinary proceeding which could lead to his expulsion.
The report slammed the nearly universal practice of the police of opening a case against citizens for striking police anytime citizens complain that a policeman struck them.
He said this practice undermines police accountability and the public’s faith in law enforcement.
In another case, the report said that a taxi driver had unjustifiably been dragged into criminal proceedings for years by the Transportation Ministry over a mere NIS 3.8 violation. The report rebuked the ministry and recommended a fine or another administrative penalty in place of criminal proceedings in such situations.
Rozen noted a positive impact he had on the police since he received an update that the police now are following a procedure that suspects must be notified within two weeks of when cases against them are closed.
This came after Rozen pressed the police hard on the issue since until now sometimes months or longer might pass until the police notified a suspect that a case against him was closed.
There were also multiple instances in 2020 when Rozen was asked to probe Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.
In all three cases: regarding his sitting on the committee to appoint the state attorney at a time when the Harpaz Affair was not yet closed, his serving as both attorney-general and state attorney when the government could not agree on a new state attorney and regarding the circumstances of closing allegations against him in the Harpaz Affair itself – Rozen took Mandelblit’s position overall.
Rozen finishes an approximately five year term at the end of 2021, making this his final report. He is the second oversight czar after Hila Gerstl who served a much shorter term due to conflicts with then attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein and other top officials. Rozen rose to prominence as the judge who convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert in the Holyland trial.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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